Saint NameJob, Old Testament Patriarch : S01191
Saint Name in SourceἸώβι
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before527
Evidence not after548
Activity not before527
Activity not after548
Place of Evidence - RegionArabia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcBosra
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Bosra
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsBequests, donations, gifts and offerings
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
Monarchs and their family
SourceProbably a reused stone block. Dimensions unknown. There is no published description. Now lost.
The inscription was first seen by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812 (during his journey from Aleppo to Damascus), on 'a broken stone in the modern wall of a courtyard near the castle (citadel)' of Bostra. His edition appeared in 1822. That year the inscription was independently also published by Johann Philipp Gustav von Ewers from a copy by Otto Friedrich von Richter, a philologist and surveyor born at Dorpat in Livland who travelled in Cyprus, Syria, and Asia Minor in 1816 (for his work, see: E02234).
In the same period the stone was also seen by William John Bankes, during his journeys in the Mediterranean between 1815 and 1820 (for his work, see: E02194); but his copy remained unpublished until 2011 when it was edited by Maurice Sartre and Annie Sartre-Fauriat. In March 1816 Bostra was also visited by James Silk Buckingham, a Cornish journalist and traveller, later known as a partisan for the free press in India. In the 1825 publication of journals from his extensive travels in Syria, Buckingham wrote that he saw the inscription at 'the castle of Bostra (...) [on] a large stone near the entrance.' Yet another publication, from a copy by a Swedish traveller, Jakob Berggren, appeared in the third volume of Berggren's book (in Swedish) Resor i Europa och Oesterlaenderne, published in 1828.
A new edition, summarizing all earlier transcriptions was then offered by Adolf Kirchhoff in the fourth volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum. The last traveller who saw the stone was Charles James Monk, later Member of Parliament and director of the Suez Canal Company, who travelled in Syria in 1848, soon after he had graduated from Trinity College (Cambridge). In the 1854 edition of his journal, he says that 'the inscription was rudely engraved upon a fractured block of stone, which was lying at some distance from any building or column. Many of the letters are wholly illegible, while others were exceedingly doubtful'. This means that the block had been removed from the wall where earlier travellers had seen it. Monk offers an uppercase transcription and a restoration which was suggested by 'a distinguished scholar' (not mentioned by name). This edition was then reprinted and commented on by William Waddington in 1870. By the time of Waddington's survey of Bostra (in the 1860s) the stone had been lost.
DiscussionThe inscription commemorates the construction of an oratorial house (eukterios oikos), probably a church, dedicated to Job, almost certainly the Old Testament Patriarch and the protagonist of the Book of Job. Some 19th c. editors, reprinting the original copies which we mention above, corrected the name of this saint to Iakobos (i.e. Jacob or James), but this emendation is decisively rejected by Waddington and Sartre. It is not clear whether the name of Job was followed by that of another holy patron of the shrine or by a reference to a dedication/consecration by an archbishop.
The epithet athlophoros, mentioned in line 3, suggests that Job was venerated in Bostra as a martyr. This is understandable, given the story of his sufferings and his rigid stance in faith. Similarly, other pre-Christian figures, whose stories were described in the Scriptures, were sometimes venerated as martyrs by Christians (e.g. *John the Baptist, the *Maccabean martyrs, the *Three Hebrew Youths in the Fiery Furnace, etc.). In their editions, Maurice Sartre and William Wadington offer further comments on Job's cult from the perspective of our text. They note that Job is still venerated by the Greek, Syriac and Coptic Church on 6th May, and that his feast is recorded in Acta Sanctorum on 10th May. He is usually described in the modern liturgical context as μυρίαθλος ('bearing tens of thousands of prizes'), and the 10th c. Menologion of Basil depicts him as a 'righteous one' and 'conqueror of multiple contests', i.e. in a similar way to that in which martyrs were described and as the author of our inscription saw him.
Waddington tried to explain the siting of Job's cult in Bostra by the fact that an early Christian tradition set his home near the city and claimed that its name derived from Job's mother (see: a passage from the Acts of a 3rd c. council of Bostra: Βόστρα, ἐπώνυμος οὖσα Βοσόρας τῆς μητρὸς τοῦ θεσπεσίου Ἰώβ/'Bostra, which is named after Bosora, mother of the admirable Job': Mansi I, 787 and EXXXXX). Importantly, he noted that Procopius mentions a charitable institution for the poor (ptocheion) restored by Justinian in Bostra (see: Buildings V 9, EXXXX) and believed that it was the building commemorated in our text. This is refuted by Sartre, as the inscription does not so name the foundation it commemorates. It is, however, possible that the hospice was somehow connected to, or even belonged to, our church, and was run by its staff.
Dating: The inscription can be dated only by the reference to Justinian who ascended the throne in 527 and to Theodora who died in 548.
Sartre, M. (ed.), Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 13/1: Bostra: nos. 9001 à 9472 (BAH 13, Paris: Librairie orientaliste P. Geuthner, 1982), no. 9137.
Waddington, W.H., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie (Paris: Firmin Didot Frères, Libraires-Éditeurs, 1870), no. 1916a.
Monk, C.J., The Golden Horn: and sketches in Asia Minor, Egypt, Syria, and the Hauraan, vol. 2 (London: R. Bentley, 1851), 274.
Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum IV, no. 8638.
Berggren, J., Resor i Europa och Oesterlaenderne af J. Berggren (Stockholm 1826-1828), 3, tab. 3 recto.
Buckingham, J.S., Travels among the Arab tribes inhabiting the countries east of Syria and Palestine (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1825), 202.
von Richter, O.F., Wallfahrten im Morgenlande. Aus seinen Tagebüchern und Briefen dargestellt von Johann Philipp Gustav Ewers, Band 1: Textband. Band 2: Tafelband (Berlin 1822), 185 and 560, no. 16 (cf. a new edition: Documenta Arabica, Teil 1: Reiseliteratur/Olms Verlag 2005).
Burckhardt, J.L., Travels in Syria and the Holy Land (London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1822), 234.
Feissel, D., "L'évêque, tires et fonctions d'après les inscriptions grecques jusqu'au VIIe siècle", in: Baritel, F., Duval, N., Pergola, Ph. (eds.), Actes du XIe Congrès International d'Archéologie Chrétienne: Lyon, Vienne, Grenoble, Genève et Aoste (21-28 Septembre 1986) (Rome: Ecole française de Rome, 1989), 822.
Sartre, M., Sartre-Fauriat, A. (eds.), Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 13/2: Bostra (Supplément) et la plaine de la Nuqrah (BAH 194, Beirut: Institut français du Proche-Orient, 2011), 16, 18 (supplement).
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 39, 1645; 61, 1480.